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Salman Rushdie stabbing: Assailant identified as Hadi Matar, an Islamist with pro-Iran views

The Times of India logo The Times of India 13-08-2022 Chidanand Rajghatta
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WASHINGTON: Law enforcement authorities in New York on Friday identified author Salman Rushdie's assailant as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey, believed, on the basis of his social media posts, to be a supporter of fundamentalist forces in Iran which initiated a fatwa on the writer in 1988.

Salman Rushdie attack: Live updates

After stabbing, Rushdie was flown to UPMC Hamot Surgery Center in Erie, Pennsylvania and underwent surgery. Andrew Wylie, Rushdie's agent, said the writer was on a ventilator with a damaged liver, severed nerves in an arm and an eye he was likely to lose.

READ ALSO: February 14, 1989: The fatwa against Salman Rushdie

Matar reportedly drove from his home in Fairview, New Jersey to Chautauqua, in Upstate New York, where Rushdie, 75, was a guest speaker at a local literary festival. He was being interviewed by Henry Reese, 73, when Matar, said to be of Lebanese origin, rushed on to the stage to attack him.

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He was pinned down by audience members who jumped on stage to protect the panelists, and doctor among them helped administer CPR to Rushdie before he was airlifted to hospital.

READ ALSO: Salman Rushdie on ventilator, may lose an eye after stabbing

The attack, given Matar's purported Iranian sympathies, immediately took on geo-political implications, coming as it did just days after the Biden administration's Justice Department charged a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of trying to orchestrate the assassination of former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

READ ALSO: Salman Rushdie: Magical realist forced to live on the run

Iran's fundamentalist clerical leadership led by Ayatollah Khomeini had passed a death sentence fatwa on Rushdie following the publication of his book Satanic Verses in 1988. The fatwa had never been formally revoked, but after years in hiding and under protection, Rushdie, currently living in New York City, had lately resumed normal engagements.

So far, Iran has not commented on the Rushdie attack.

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